The following story was written by former Red Bank-Shrewsbury Patch Editor Edward Van Embden on the 10th anniversary of 9/11:
As a 21-year-old student living in New York, Jesse Bello-Paseka said
it wasn’t the events of Sept. 11, 2001 that surprised him most, as
horrible as they were, he admits, but rather what followed.
As plumes of smoke poured out of the site that was once the World Trade Center towers for days and as national media outlets around the country and around the world prognosticated about an uncertain future, Bello-Paseka, now 31, said a sense of calm and a feeling of community he had never seen before pervaded life in New York.
“No matter where you walked, you just knew everyone was on your side,” he said. “You didn’t feel scared. You didn’t feel as though your life was in danger. It was a weird feeling, for sure, but there was a sense of unity, and that feeling is what remained every day.”
Bello-Paseka, the co-owner of Sugarush bakery in Red Bank, said things returned to normal in the years following the attacks — neighborhoods and people became exclusive and exclusionary again — but he’ll always remember how the worst attack on American soil didn’t break the city’s spirits, but rather encouraged a feeling of community he could never have expected.